I saw Inside Out this weekend and I can’t stop making references. I am POSITIVE that Week One sucked.
Week One: Results
Week One was all about Planning and then Writing. I spent the week planning the content I would write over the weekend—hypothetically.
Actually, I played around with the outline created by K.M. Weiland (author of “Structuring Your Novel”), which I had imported into Scrivener. I completed two “Character Interviews,” one for DawnFire (our reluctant hero) and one for Adam (our sidekick in denial about not being a hero), as they will take up much of the next few scenes/chapters Something Awesome and Also Fire (SAAF). I also designed a city and a population and got a TON of ideas about what to write next!
For the new short story I’m working on—well, technically, I’m rewriting an old story from college but that’s splitting hairs—I started outlining the story itself. This is a speculative fiction story called Devil’s Deck and I have really enjoyed breaking out my suspense writing again.
Well, I did have a goal of 4,000+ words and I definitely hit that. I was well over 6,000 before I deleted a couple paragraphs and moved some stuff around. This was for Devil’s Deck, which needs to be under 5,000 words, but that’s a problem for another time.
Planning definitely worked well, even if I didn’t quite hit the mark I wanted. Setting time aside to work on character sketches, settings, and technology BEFORE I could move into writing content actually made me sit down and set some ideas and universe rules in stone. Well, clay. Sweet, soft, malleable clay.
My point is that my old technique of mixing planning and writing was not productive for my novel. It WAS productive for my short story, possibly because SAAF is such a massive project and Devil’s Deck isn’t. I’ll have to play with that a little more.
What didn’t work
The biggest problem this week was that I just didn’t have enough time to plan like I wanted to. During the weekdays, writing time is limited. I have a couple hours in the evening when I’m too tired to do much pure creating and 30 – 45 minutes in the morning when I write like I just breathe story. I never had time to really sink into the character or setting sketch I was doing and I certainly didn’t have time to explore the imported outline that I am so excited about.
What I learned
My old method of sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind is exactly as tired and amateurish as I expected. I may still rely on it from time to time, just to get the juices flowing, but no longer as a staple of my work. Outlining and planning ahead, getting to know my characters inside and out before putting them to paper, these are things that will help prevent a million rewrites before the book is even done.
Most importantly, I learned I need to outline story content before I’ll actually write story content. While several distinct scenes were given life by my character and setting work in SAAF, when it came time to actually write, Devil’s Deck was ready to go.
Why? Because I had actually planned out the scenes themselves.
However, as said earlier, my needs when mapping out short stories, novels, and other projects may differ. I’ve learned I need to be flexible and adaptable for my work.
This week (Monday – Sunday), I will be writing new content and then editing. All three experiments sort of run the cycle of plan -> write -> edit so this second week is moving into the joys of editing.
I am so terrified right now.
The good thing is that I have a short story to rip apart so hopefully my self-destructive tendencies won’t be directed at my novel too much. I’ll spend the week planning and edit on the weekend.
This is potentially a bit of a cheat because I have Friday off but I’ll try not to be too greedy and stick to the experiment.
After all, I am a writer who sciences. We must respect the science.
See you on Thursday for Part 2 of the Living the Dream: Quit Your Job to Write